France is one of the countries in Europe that still preserves walled cities, towering castles with drawbridges, huge rock columns with imposing towers and picturesque villages, all characteristic features of the Middle Ages.
Let’s get to know the 10 medieval towns in France that stand out for their impeccable buildings, which have endured despite time and changes.
1. Sainte Agnes – Provence
Provence (Provence) is one of the most beautiful provinces in France with its colorful lavender fields, olive groves, vineyards and various crops that embellish the landscapes.
In this region is Sainte Agnes, considered one of the most beautiful medieval villages in France and the highest in Europe, reaching 800 meters above sea level.
It is 45 minutes from the seaport of Nice, on the French Riviera. To get there you have to follow a narrow and winding road.
Already in the village you will discover a wonderful view of this beautiful region of the Maritime Alps, with a picturesque place of cobbled streets, adobe walls, arches and narrow alleys and balconies with wooden doors and colored flowers that adorn the houses built between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries.
2. Gordes – Provence
Among the valleys and mountains of the Provençal region is another of the most beautiful villages in France: Gordes, a place nestled on a hill, walled and with rock and uniform architecture, which remains true to its Roman origins.
The town was built around a medieval castle that currently houses the town hall and a museum from where you have beautiful views of the entire valley.
Like almost all the towns in France, in addition to being a picturesque and rustic place, its events and festivities such as the Wine and Almond Festival give it added value.
Gordes belongs to the department of Vaucluse, in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur region, a beautiful jewel perched on a hill that you cannot miss.
Avignon is not only the capital of the Vaucluse department, it is also a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site for its beautiful architecture and rich history, since from 1309 to 1377 it was the residence of 7 popes, a period that became known as the Papacy of Avignon.
Its historical origin is breathed throughout the city. The Palais des Papes is one of the most important Gothic buildings in Europe, which in addition to exhibiting paintings, celebrates the Avignon Festival in July with cultural events.
If you have heard the song of the Pont d’Avignon, there you will find the protagonist. It is a perfectly preserved Roman bridge built in the 12th century. From there you can have impressive views of the city and the greenish waters of the Rhone River.
Do not miss the opportunity to walk through its cobbled streets, admire its constructions made of pale rock, get to know its squares, visit its markets and value all the culture and traditions that Avignon encloses.
4. Carcassonne – Occitanie
In the southern part of the country, on a hill in the Languedoc region, is Carcassonne, an impressive walled citadel that, like other medieval towns in France, is also part of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage.
Imposing walls, towers, bridges and huge rocky walls make up an imposing castle that invites you to learn about its medieval stories and legends through shows such as theater, jousting and guided tours.
The citadel dresses up in summer with its numerous cultural events and at night, with light shows that give an impressive view of the fort. In the surroundings you can enjoy French cuisine and browse the craft shops.
Carcassonne is very close to the southern border with Spain, between Toulouse and Perpignan.
5. Couraze (The Town of the Sun)- French Riviera
It is the sunniest medieval town in the region, which has made sundials abound in its streets.
Another of the great attractions of Couraze is the Blue Chapel built in the 17th century, whose name comes from the frescoes in shades of blue that represent passages from the Bible painted by the Spanish, Ponce de León.
The ruins of Rocca Parviera are another site that you must visit. An old town of 350 inhabitants that fell from the grace of Queen Jeanne, who after a family tragedy cursed it causing its inhabitants to abandon it. Today it is a ghost town 1000 meters above sea level.
6. Colmar – Alsace
It is a village of narrow streets with wooden beams on the facades of houses with gabled roofs, wooden windows, balconies and bridges adorned with flowers.
Colmar is a beautiful little town in the province of Alsace, in northeastern France, with a mix of architectural styles such as Baroque, Neo-Baroque, Renaissance and Gothic, as well as Classicism and Neoclassicism.
Walking through the old part of the city will be like going back to the Middle Ages; You can also take a boat tour on the Lauch River and admire the canals that cross the city known as Little Venice.
In addition to its beauty, Colmar is part of the 170 km long wine route, both in spring and at Christmas, when the decoration is simply spectacular.
Cozy town with narrow cobbled streets, houses with wooden facades, colorful flowers adorning the balconies, fountains and small squares.
It is believed that it served as inspiration for Walt Disney so that the genius made the village of his film, Beauty and the Beast.
Eguisheim is one of the most beautiful medieval towns in France, because in addition to its architecture, the quality of the wines produced in this area of the Upper Rhine stands out. The place is also famous for the number of storks that nest in the old town. town.
In the historic center, the Place du Château Saint – Léon stands out, from where the three main streets start and where the Château de Saint – Léon Pfalz is located, a beautiful fountain and the church, both dedicated to Pope Leo IX.
On Rue du Rempart is one of the most famous places in town. It is “Le Pigeonnier” or El Palomar, a picturesque construction where storks nest.
8. Yvoire -Rhoddo Alps
Another beautiful medieval town on the shores of Lake Léman, the one with the most water in all of Europe and also known as Lake Geneva, since its extension reaches this Swiss city.
Walk through its alleys and enjoy the beautiful views of the mountains. Like all medieval towns, it also has its castle, the Château d’Yvoire, with restricted access.
The Park of the 5 senses is a space made up of a labyrinth of grass that will allow you to interact with hundreds of plants that you can see, smell, touch and even taste. It is a unique experience, especially for children.
9. Chamonix Mont Blanc – Rhone Alps
Tucked away under the slopes of the Mont Blanc chain, the highest peak in the Swiss Alps, lies this picturesque whitewashed village, very close to where the borders of France, Switzerland and Italy meet.
It is an alpine town with bridges covered in colorful flowers that adorn the streets. Its cable car crosses the town to take you on a ride into the mountains and marvel at the spectacular snowy landscapes.
In the Alpine Museum you will see the evolution of the objects and equipment that have been used over the years to explore and conquer the peaks of the Alps.
The Mon Blanc Tramway will take you through forests and snowy slopes towards the Bionassay Glacier and the “Les Houches” ski resort.
10. Saint Malo – Brittany
Saint Malo is another of the most beautiful villages in medieval France that we could not leave out of this list.
The beauty of its walled citadel, the strong buffeting of the Atlantic winds and the charm of its surroundings, make this place an obligatory stop in French Brittany.
It is also known as the corsair city for having been home to pirates and corsairs during its heyday as the most important port in France, in the 17th century.
The old part of the city is protected by granite walls that, after being left in ruins by the Second World War, were restored.
You should also schedule a visit to the Castle of Saint Malo and the Cathedral of Saint Vincent.
In addition to its historical richness, the gastronomy of this port city, composed mainly of fresh seafood from the waters of the Atlantic, is one of the best in the region.
Medieval towns near Paris
La Roche Gouyon (Ile de France), Gerveroy (Picardy), Chateauneuf en Auxois (Burgundy), Noyers (Burgundy), Bezelay (Burgundy), Flavigny sur Ozerain (Burgundy), Saint Benoit de Sault (Val de Loire), Apremont sur Allier (Center Val de Loire) and Gargilesse (Dempierre), are some towns in France close to Paris.
Medieval towns in northern France
Although the north of France is not as popular with travelers as Paris, Provence or the Côte d’Azur, it still has a lot to offer in terms of medieval towns such as Boulougne sur mer, Barfleur, Lewarde, Calais, Deaville, Arras, Mont Saint Michelle and Granville.
If something characterizes the medieval era, it is the legends of armed knights who fought in battles brandishing their swords, defending their honor, their lands or their castles; era of characters that endure to this day through stories and history.
You are always invited to visit these medieval towns in France to relive the adventures and legends of that medieval time.
- Read our guide on the 56 best tourist places in France that you have to visit
- Click to know the 15 most beautiful cities in France that you have to visit
- Check out our guide to the 30 most beautiful villages in France